Re: Hyperlinks = maps = relationships?

Subject: Re: Hyperlinks = maps = relationships?
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- SIMPLYWRITTEN -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 16:00:49 -0500

And Geoff sayeth, in part:

>- what are the main failures of hyperlinks, and how could
>understanding the underlying "map relationship" improve our
>- what is the difference between a hyperlink that simply jumps you
>to another position, vs. one that expresses a relationship?
>- are image maps better at showing relationships than text links?
>I'm looking forward to seeing more of this!

Any two points or elements connected conceptually have some kind of a
"relationship", it seems to me. They're merely realizations of the concepts.
A link is a relationship that operates to replace one element with another.

But conceptually, I think of hypertext more as networks. Topics/pages are
nodes. Links are connections. So what we're saying is that "This
element/topic relates to that element/topic in a way that's reflected by the
link I've established between them."

By deciding to establish a link between elements, we both add value to each
element, and we give each a conceptual connection with the other. For
example, if we establish a link between a topic/page of "Printing with the
DuWop Driver" and "Printing with the SeventhSeal Driver", we're implying
that these two topics are related. Now, whether the user agrees with us or
not is another matter. But we're clueing the user that, at least in our
minds, these two topics sit side-by-side on a hierarchical tree of some

The main problem I see with hyperlinks is when they're used
indiscriminately. The author figures that she'll just toss every conceivable
link into some sort of "see also" scenario and let the reader sort it all
out. This seems to me an abrogation of responsibility. The user has every
reason to think that links imply a conceptual relationship that makes
immediate sense.

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar Method(TM)
"Better communication is a service to mankind."

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